British judges rule body modification can “not be compared with tattooing or piercing”

English body modifier Brendan McCarthy, also known as "Dr. Evil," pled guilty to three counts of causing grievous bodily harm after his final appeal was rejected. In 2017 he had been initially convicted on six counts of wounding.

McCarthy ran Dr. Evil’s Body Modification Emporium, where he carried out procedures such as tongue splitting and the removal of nipples and ears from 2012-2015. The Wolverhampton Council argued that McCarthy didn’t have the license to perform procedures “akin to cosmetic surgery. And while McCarthy’s experience may be unique, there are hundreds of body mod artists from around the world performing these procedures in secret. Rhiannon Jones, a senior prosecutor for the Crown, called this “a landmark case involving body modification.”

For the past several decades, body modification artists from around the world have performed procedures, such as tongue splits or amputations. Records of body modification in the West have been documented for years on the blog BME and many brave body modifierss will show off their procedures on social media. However, others will keep quiet about their work in order to avoid attention from the authorities, who would shut down their shops and putting them behind bars.

Body modification procedures, such as those performed by McCarthy, are illegal in most countries and territories unless performed by a medical professional. Some states or cities have more lenient regulations on more “extreme” body modification procedures, but many places have been cracking down on this industry in recent years. For example, following the accidental blinding of a 24-year-old Canadian woman, the city of Ottowa banned eyeball tattooing back in 2018.

Many have shown their support for McCarthy. Not only were there crowds of people showing support for McCarthy at the courthouse, but over 14,000 individuals have also signed a petition on Change.Org. Additionally, several of McCarthy’s clients (or victims according to the Daily Record) defending his actions, including a man named Nick Pinch. Pinch had his nipple removed by McCarthy and told BBC that "[McCarthy] wanted to know why I wanted this procedure, he wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing, he took complete duty of care. I'm really happy with what I've had done."

McCarthy is scheduled to be sentenced on March 21st of 2019 and will be allowed bail on the condition that he will not perform any more “surgical procedures.” Unfortunately, for body modification enthusiasts worldwide, this will likely be the first of many cases that will attempt to shut down the industry and keep these procedures confined to the plastic surgeon’s office.